Most people are all too familiar with student loan debt, often spending years of their adult lives paying it off. Unfortunately, the current economic climate, growing tuition costs and shortage of jobs for new graduates have resulted in many borrowers struggling to make regular payments. In fact, Americans owe nearly $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loans.

To ease the burden of these debts, an increasing number of borrowers are seeking financial relief. Sometimes this is achieved through bankruptcy, which was not an option for discharging student loan debt in the past.

In 2016, there were many instances of bankruptcy courts allowing the discharge of student loan debt. In many cases, this was achieved through the argument that the definition of student loan is vague. Other times it was due to proof of extreme hardship, which has always been an option under the Bankruptcy Code.

Those with student loans in default include not just the students, but older adults who take on debt on behalf of their children and grandchildren. According to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report, the number of consumers over 60 with student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade. Individuals over age 60 account for $66.7 billion in student loan debt, with 40 percent of borrowers in debt, the highest for any age group. This economic hardship is particularly difficult for older adults, who are putting their Social Security and other retirement income at risk.

Regardless of your age or situation, facing overwhelming student loan debt can add considerable strain to your life. If you decide to pursue bankruptcy or other debt relief options, you can benefit from discussing your case with an experienced attorney.